by Claudia Keurdjekian
Warmup exercise: Interview
Answer the following questions based on what you wrote for your rough draft.
- What is your version of Motherless Brooklyn about?
My version of Motherless Brooklyn is about Lionel’s language. In other words his tics and his narration. It focuses on his creativity with words.
2. What are some challenges in adapting this novel into a film?
I guess it’s really impersonating the character, making it come to life. Without really changing too much about what was originally in the novel. You have to really be able to bring the character into life and not to make it seem unrealistic. You can’t fit all of the novel in a movie so you need to chose the most important parts of the novel, the essence or the main point.
3. Why do you think Lionel is such a compelling character?
Lionel is a compelling character because he has the Tourette’s which make him special. I’ve never seen a character in a novel that has tics. I think that is why he is out of the ordinary, but at the same time he is such a relatable character. He has issues in his life that we each of us could experience. He has overcome so much in life despite his Tourette’s condition, not only has he grown, but he has developed a sense of freedom in life.
4. What’s one thing you hope people will take away from your film version of Motherless Brooklyn?
I hope that they will understand that language can be expressed by anyone despite having a condition and that everyone has some bit of creativity in themselves. All of us can be imaginative whether we have a condition or not.
Task one: Log line
- Reread your piece. Underline any sentences that you think could be expanded upon to become the main idea of your piece.
- Then, read “How to Write the Perfect Logline.”
- Write the following information:
- The protagonist (don’t use their names, just description — for example ‘An alcoholic surgeon…’). Think of the most accurate way to describe Lionel according to your draft. You don’t have to say “A Tourettic Detective”.
A creative touretter
- The goal of the protagonist (this is usually in line with your 2nd act turning point — ‘An alcoholic surgeon must fight for his job…’). Think of his emotional goals. You don’t need to say “A Tourettic detective must find out who killed his boss…”
A creative touretter must find out who he actually is.
- The antagonist (and the obstacle of the antagonist — ‘An alcoholic surgeon must fight for his job after a disgruntled patient accuses him of malpractice…’). In this novel, the main antagonist, I think, is something within Lionel himself.
A creative touretter must find out who he actually is and stop acting like he’s someone else.
- Then, try fitting this information into this structure:
When [INCITING INCIDENT OCCURS], a [SPECIFIC PROTAGONIST] must [OBJECTIVE], or else [STAKES].
When someone in the gang dies, the creative touretter must find out who he actually is or else he never truly be himself.
- Ask 4 questions about the story of [the novel] starting from the end and working your way to the beginning.
Why does Lionel kill the killer (the giant)?
Why does Lionel go to the Zendo?
How does Frank Minna die?
Why does Lionel keeps having outbursts?
- Now that you have your answers you can construct a rudimentary outline of what will eventually become your log line:
A creative touretter is looking for the killer of his best friend, and so he goes to Zendo to look for some clues and gather information. At the end, of the novel, he catches the killer and kills him.
- Now, make it less clunky and more focused, leaving us with something like this:
A creative touretter is looking for the killer of his best friend and is determined to solve the case, but at the same time he discovers himself.
- Don’t forget the aspect of the novel you’re discussing! Rewrite the log line so that that aspect is included.
Task Two: Forget about the logline
Maybe the logline thing was helpful, maybe not.
Look at the final logline that you wrote in Task One.
Rewrite 5 different versions of it, trying to make it more precise and more specific to your paper as possible with each different version. Each version can be slightly different (by changing a word or two), or completely different (by completely rewriting it).
- A creative touretter who is desperate to find the killer of his best friend finds himself alone in solving the case.
Task three: evidence
You want to make sure you’re using evidence from as many different parts of the novel as possible. Many people could stand to add in more varied evidence.
- Make a list of the page numbers where your citations come from. Are you leaning too heavily on one or two parts of the novel?
No, I am not leaning too heavily on one part of the novel, the pages are spread out through out the novel. I have some citations from the beginning, the middle and the end of the story.
- If so, look for new pieces of evidence from parts of the novel that you haven’t considered. Note some ideas of passages you might use here.
Task four: context
Using citations is not just a matter of cherrypicking a few quotes from different parts of the novel. You have to really consider the context of what’s going on.
- For each quote that you used, reread the entire scene in which it takes place. If the scene is really long, read at least one page before and one page after each citation you use.
- Do you have any new ideas after rereading the scene? If so, list them here.
by Claudia Keurdjekian